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Paleo Diet Potentially Dangerous, Says Researcher
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL November 22, 2013 – Dr. Loren Cordain’s highly publicized Paleo Diet lacks specifics and creates serious potential health risks, according to nutrition researcher and FoodSmart Alliance founder Diana Hunter. These risks are of particular concern with regard to children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and women who are pregnant, nursing, or in childbearing years.
“Advising people to eat meat, fish, or seafood every day without mentioning the potential for excessive mercury consumption from eating certain types of fish or seafood is reckless and irresponsible,” states Hunter. “It can too easily lead to situations in which individuals repeatedly consume fish or seafood with higher mercury levels within too tight a timeframe. This can lead to the consumption of unsafe amounts of mercury. It’s an especially important consideration with children, as their bodies are smaller.”
Hunter cites tuna as a prime example.
“Canned tuna is convenient and cost effective, making it an attractive choice for hurried, budget-minded individuals and families,” she states. “The problem is most people are unaware that white albacore tuna contains more mercury than chunk light tuna. Those in the high-risk sectors are currently advised to consume no more than six ounces of it per week. Kids should consume even less. The same is true of fresh tuna. And swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish should be avoided altogether. Not to mention locally caught fish in many areas that test high for mercury content.”
Hunter says more attention to detail is needed to protect the public.
“With today’s fast-paced lifestyles, specifics are more important than ever,” she remarks.
Yet Dr. Cordain’s Paleo Diet website states that individuals should add meat or “seafood of choice (salmon, shrimp, tuna, or any fresh fish or seafood)” to their daily lunches with no warning about mercury consumption.
Hunter also notes that while selenium binds to mercury, and the selenium in fish may provide a protective factor against mercury overconsumption, individuals with selenium deficiency and bioavailability issues are still at risk. This includes those who regularly eat higher-mercury foods as well as those with thyroid problems, diabetes, and other disorders . “You have to think outside the fish,” she says.
Spinoffs of the Paleo Diet are another issue, according to Hunter, as they have the potential to create other health concerns.
“It’s not likely that pepperoni, fried sweet potatoes, and burnt meat were part of our ancestor’s daily diet,” she remarks. “Yet these chemical-laden foods are recommended in Paleo recipes for kids every day.”
Overall, Hunter advocates eating a variety of fresh natural foods as long as an individual does not have nutrition-related medical restrictions. She notes that trying to eat a diet similar to what our ancestors ate is a challenge, particularly given that much of the meat available for consumption today contains chemical and drug residues.
Diana Hunter is a nutrition researcher, college instructor, and certified professional food manager. She is the author of FoodSmart: Understanding Nutrition in the 2st Century and Me, Myself & Food: Conquering The Struggle Against Overweight And Obesity Without Dieting. For more information visit FoodSmart.org.
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